ROME – Dozens of Nobel laureates will gather in the Vatican this weekend to promote Pope Francis’s message of human fraternity, touting it as both a solution to global conflicts and to what organizers describe as a growing culture of indifference to others.
Speaking to journalists Monday, Italian Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, a key papal ally, said, “We want to make this word ‘fraternity’ resound, in [St. Peter’s] square but [also] on social media.”
“We want it, from June 10, to become in time one of those words that influences culture and brings the attention of people’s hearts back” to what is essential, Gambetti said.
Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vicar General of the Vatican City State and President of the Fabric of St. Peter, Gambetti is one of the main organizers of the upcoming “Not Alone” event.
Set to take place at the Vatican this Saturday, June 10, the event is being promoted on social media with the hashtag “#NotAlone” and is inspired by Pope Francis’s 2020 encyclical on social friendship Fratelli Tutti.
It is being organized by the Fratelli Tutti Foundation in collaboration with several Vatican departments, including Dicasteries for Communication, Integral Human Development, Interreligious Dialogue, Culture and Education, and Eastern Churches.
The Vatican’s Secretariat of State is also involved, as the Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin and his deputy, Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Peῆa Parra, will meet with the 30 Nobel laureates who will attend.
On Saturday morning the laureates will draft a document on “Universal Human Fraternity” that will be presented to Pope Francis later that evening. The laureates include Iraqi Yazidi woman Nadia Murad; former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos; Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi; and former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sánchez, among others.
The main goal of the event, which will gather young people and representatives of various organizations and associations from around the world, including youth from both Russia and Ukraine, is to promote a culture of fraternity, peace and dialogue through a visible showing of unity in diversity in the embrace of Bernini’s colonnades in St. Peter’s Square.
Things will kick off Saturday morning, with participants meeting in five different working groups: the Nobel laureates, the environment, schools, vulnerable people, and associations. The groups will discuss the topic of fraternity and outline “paths of communion” in their respective areas.
In the afternoon, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Rome time, participants will come together for an official evening program that will be broadcast on Italian state broadcaster RAI, and which will feature performances by various artists and musicians, including Andrea Bocelli and a slew of other famous Italian singers.
Talks will also be given by those representing various associations dedicated to human rights and the environment, as well as entrepreneurs who will discuss the commitment needed to building a global “culture of fraternity” according to Pope Francis’s vision.
Participants will also tune in from several other countries around the world, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Argentina, Japan, Peru and Jerusalem in the Holy Land, as well as from a migrant rescue ship that will be sailing in the Ionian Sea in southern Italy.
The event will culminate with a meeting with Pope Francis, who is expected to arrive around 6:00 p.m. and to listen to presentations of what was discussed during the morning working groups. Francis will also offer a speech to those present and those connected from abroad.
Representing the Nobel Laureates will be Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus and Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad, who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and 2018, respectively.
They will present the pope with the document on “Universal Human Fraternity” drafted by the 30 Nobel laureates earlier that morning. Pope Francis himself will then sign the document, launching an initiative aimed at gathering a billion signatures.
“Either we are brothers and sisters, we recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters, or we become enemies,” Gambetti said during Monday’s presentation of the event.
“Each one must choose which side to take. All those who, along the path that will unfold after June 10, sign the declaration, will be part of that world that wants to build fraternity,” he said.
Pope Francis will also be shown a video illustrating the concept of fraternity produced by those described as being the most fragile and marginalized in society. The pope will then take the hands of young men and women from the world’s five continents in a symbolic gesture of unity.
The meeting will continue until roughly 10:00 p.m., with circus and street artists performing in St. Peter’s Square.
Each participant will receive a clod of dirt and various seeds to plant as a gift and a symbol of the commitment to growing and safeguarding human fraternity.
“We are all of equal dignity, but we are different from every point of view: Anthropological, cultural, social, ethnic, religious,” Gambetti said, saying this diversity “is the great beauty and also the great gift and potential, because around these differences, read in the light of fraternity, one can build communion, a community.”
Among those participating will be Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who also spoke at Monday’s presentation in a pre-recorded video message.
“We are happy to join the pope’s call for human fraternity and peace,” Grandi said. “In a world so battered by conflicts, this message must be welcome for the good of all humanity.”
He thanked the various organizations committed to welcoming refugees “as brothers and sisters” and for their commitment to “making our societies grow,” and voiced hope that Saturday’s event “represents the beginning of a strengthened solidarity for the over 103 million displaced people and refugees still in search of protection.”
Gambetti stressed the need to cultivate unity and fellowship in a world that is increasingly divided, tribalized, and isolated through social media, often viewing others, or at least those of differing views, as “antagonists rather than friends.”
“The moment in which we lose our view of difference,” a sense of humanity is lost, he said, saying people “no longer see each other as brothers,” but distorted images of others develop which “create conditions for violence, imposing on others, or distances that render us indifferent to or isolated from others.”
He noted that Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi was on a peace mission in Kyiv June 5-6 to discuss the possibility of peace and humanitarian support amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war.
Zuppi, Gambetti said, went to Kyiv “to bring this vision forward, that is, that it is possible to recognize each other as brothers and as such they recognize each other as a gift and can coexist peacefully.”
The aim of Saturday’s event, Gambetti said, is “to draw a horizon on which we can meet and re-understand the world, globalization, with the dynamics that favor the growth of all and harmony among peoples, in the sphere of the economy, justice, politics, world, the environment.”
“We would really like to become brothers and sisters all,” he said.
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